How to Avoid Selenium Deficiency During Pregnancy

Three Methods:Eating Selenium Rich FoodsGetting the Right Amounts of SeleniumUnderstanding Selenium Deficiency

Selenium is a mineral not many people think about it their daily lives. Selenium is a very important trace mineral and antioxidant cofactor that helps protect against some disorders that are common during pregnancy. If you are worried about your selenium levels or these issues during pregnancy, there are ways you can avoid selenium deficiency while you are pregnant.

Method 1
Eating Selenium Rich Foods

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    Eat fish and seafood. Some of the best sources of selenium are fish and seafood. These are rich in selenium and will help keep your levels high. Include seafood at least two to three times a week to ensure you get enough selenium. However, make sure you avoid seafood that might contain mercury, such as King mackerel, shark, marlin, tilefish, orange roughy, swordfish, ahi (bigeye) tuna, and albacore tuna. Food sources rich in selenium are:
    • Fish, such as light or skipjack tuna, sardines, tilapia, anchovies, cod, salmon, sole, trout, and halibut
    • Seafood, such as shrimp, clams, and scallops[1][2]
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    Try more meats. Meat and other animal parts are some of the best sources for selenium. The meats you eat should be lean, grass fed, antibiotic free, and hormone free. Eat meat or meat parts two times a week to increase your selenium. These meats include:
    • Beef
    • Lamb
    • Chicken
    • Turkey
    • Eggs
    • Milk[3]
    • Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads (made from animal brains)
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    Ingest more nuts, seeds, and grains. Whole grains, seeds, and nuts are great sources of selenium as well. These can be incorporated into meals, added to snacks, or eaten by themselves. Make sure you look for unsalted nuts and seeds to avoid getting too much sodium every day. These foods include:
    • Nuts, especially Brazil nuts
    • Seeds, such as mustard, chia, sunflower, flax, and sesame
    • Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa or breads that also incorporate the healthy seeds
    • Beans, especially lima and pinto[4]
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    Eat various vegetables. There are a number of vegetables that are high in selenium. These will help improve your health while pregnant. These are also helpful if you are vegetarian or vegan but still want to increase your selenium. These vegetables include:
    • Mushrooms, especially crimini and shiitake
    • Asparagus
    • Soybeans and tofu
    • Spinach
    • Cabbage
    • Swiss chard
    • Broccoli[5]
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    Combine different ingredients. The best way to get your daily amount of selenium is to mix up all the different selenium rich foods. Grab a handful of Brazil nuts (four or five) to get 300 to 375 mcg of selenium. Throw ¼ cup of sunflower seeds into yogurt to get about 19 mcg of selenium. Make three ounces of halibut, salmon, clams, or oysters for 40 to 60 mcg of selenium.[6]
    • Just have fun and switch it up. You will never get bored with the combinations if you keep changing them up.

Method 2
Getting the Right Amounts of Selenium

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    Get the recommended daily amount of selenium. Like with most minerals, there are specific guidelines on how much you should get every day. The recommended daily amount of selenium will change based on your age, gender, and if you are pregnant. While pregnant, your recommended daily amount is 60 to 70 mcg.
    • The amount you should have after you deliver and stop breastfeeding is 55 mcg.[7]
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    Avoid selenium toxicity. Even though you need lots of selenium to keep you healthy during your pregnancy, you can actually take too much. This is especially common when you take selenium supplements because they have such concentrated amounts. Your upper limit of selenium should be no more than 400 mcg per day. If you do develop selenium toxicity, you will experience:
    • Upset stomach
    • Nausea
    • Skin rashes
    • Garlic breath
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Neurological (nerve) disorders[8]
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    Take a selenium supplement. One additional way that you can get your daily amount of selenium is through a supplement or multivitamin. This is effective if you can’t eat enough food per day that has plenty of selenium in it. Make sure your supplement is not more that 100 mcg a day. This will help you avoid getting too much when added with any natural sources you get. You can also get a prenatal vitamin that contains selenium as well.
    • Make sure you talk to your obstetrician before taking any selenium supplements.
    • Look for a supplement that uses selenomethionine or selenocysteine as its source of selenium.[9]

Method 3
Understanding Selenium Deficiency

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    Consider how selenium contributes to pregnancy. Selenium is a trace mineral that is found in the soil, plants, and animals. Selenium changes into antioxidants, which helps pull toxic free radicals from your body.[10] It helps fight certain issues, such as thyroid disease. Your thyroid is very important to maintaining energy levels and supporting the development of a healthy baby. Selenium helps your thyroid function properly.[11]
    • Low levels of selenium also contribute to preeclampsia, which is a serious complication of pregnancy, typical your first, that results in high blood pressure and kidney damage and may lead to mother and fetal death.[12]
    • Thyroid disease is relatively common during pregnancy, which can be either the more common hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or the also prevalent hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).[13][14]
    • Selenium can also help fight other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive function diseases, and some cancers, including colorectal, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophageal, and gastric.[15]
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    Recognize the risks of selenium deficiency. There are certain groups of people who are more prone to selenium deficiency than other. If you fit into this category, make sure you have your doctor check you levels. These groups of people include:
    • Those who live in areas where the soil is selenium deficient, which causes the plants and animals in the region to have less in their systems so you ingest less
    • Those with kidney disease and undergoing kidney dialysis, since dialysis removes selenium from the blood
    • Those with HIV/AIDs, which is likely due to the loss of appetite and poor food absorption
    • Those with Crohn’s disease, because the selenium gotten from food is not well absorbed[16]
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    Have your selenium tested. If you are worried that you have a selenium deficiency or just want to be sure, have your doctor test your levels. This can be done with a sample of your blood or a sample of your hair. Your doctor will calibrate the results and let you know if your levels are normal or if you have a deficiency.
    • Selenium levels of 8 mcg/dL or higher are considered normal.[17]

Article Info

Categories: Pregnancy